For the blog regulars, you may want to skip this one. It is more oriented to the few new people that have been tuning in but have not read the 1093 previous blogs. For regulars, divert yourself by reading Feschuk’s blog here.
Please answer the following questions truthfully and after at least five seconds of deep deliberation. At the end of the test, I’ll tell you how you did.
New Brunswick is in the first period of sustained depopulation (it’s going down) since Confederation. The last time there was any drop in population at all was a two year period during the Great Depression. Do you think it’s okay, in a general way, for New Brunswick’s population to decline and for 70+% of our towns, villages and cities to be losing population? Y/N
At the same time the population is declining, government spending in New Brunswick is rising at record – inflation adjusted – levels. Since 1999, the provincial budget is up by over 35% – similar to populations that have a growing population. A large part of the revenue required to fund this increase in spending comes from the Equalization program. Politicians, expecting even further need, are demanding more Equalization. At the same time, in inflation adjusted terms spending on economic development or areas that are meant to directly increase tax revenues and grow the economy is down dramatically. Do you think that it is acceptable for government to reduce investments designed to get the economy back on track and at the same time demand more Equalization? Y/N
The previous government’s approach to economic development was to slightly cut tax rates in the hopes of stimulating large scale economic growth. For example, they cut the small business tax rate to the lowest level in Canada. The result? The growth/decline rate of small businesses in New Brunswick was second worst in Canada. Do you think it is acceptable for government to sit around and do almost nothing to address the worst population crisis in history (sorry for the hubris) and actually cut revenue out of the treasury (through marginal tax cuts) that could have been used to invest in growth-oriented economic development? Y/N
Likewise, the Federal government has been reducing dramatically its spending on economic development in New Brunswick (as a percentage of its budget). At the same time, its transfer payments to New Brunswick -notwithstanding the decline in population – are up significantly – since 1999. Do you think it’s acceptable for the Federal government to cut economic development spending and increase transfers like Equalization? Y/N
The previous government promised to put New Brunswick among the top three provinces in Canada for R&D spending. We are still dead last in Canada. The Federal government spends the least amount on R&D in New Brunswick of all provinces. Do you think it’s acceptable for the Federal government to spend more money (per capita) in all other provinces on R&D? Y/N
The Federal government just announced a $350 million incentive for Pratt & Whitney in Montreal to reseasrch and manufacture jet engines. The Federal government provides hundreds of millions of dollars in incentives to the auto sector in southern Ontario and to the oil sector in Alberta. Do you think it is acceptable policy for the government to invest in companies in the richest areas of Canada and not in the poorest? Y/N
Have you read about these issues in the media lately? Y/N
Our new Premier, Shawn Graham, has promised to put in place policies that will make New Brunswick self-sufficient in 20 years (defined as not needing Equalization). In the past seven, we have gone backwards to the tune of over $700 million per year. The former Premier and Finance Minister have laughed this off as silly. Do you think this goal is attainable with only incremental change and tweaking of policies? Y/N
Alberta has eight international offices promoting trade & investment. Ontario has a baker’s dozen. Quebec has a similar amount including some 90 people in France alone promoting trade, tourism, investment and cultural ties. New Brunswick does not have one person stationed outside New Brunswick – anywhere – promoting the province to the global business community. Do you agree with this policy? Y/N
The previous Tory government has described their time in office as a time prosperity, record growth and good government. In fact, it was reported that current Premier Shawn Graham has said he would ‘continue’ many of Lord’s economic policies (I never saw this directly). Do you agree? Y/N
Rating Your Score (high subjective!):
If you answered Yes 8-10 times you are like me and should probably seek some form of therapy. Just kidding! Call your MLA and ask why it doesn’t seem to matter to them.
If you answered Yes 5-7 times you are probably living in either a) a bubble, b) Moncton or Fredericton but not have ventured outside the community in 10 years or c) another province.
If you answered Yes 2-4 times you are most likely in need of education. Please read the last 1,093 blogs posted here (including comments!) over the past 2+ years.
If you answered Yes 1 or less times you are either a) Bernard Lord, b) Jeannot Volpe or c) Al Hogan.